FISHERS, Ind. – Isaiah Stewart is polite and affable. His game is not.
That’s the first thing you notice about Stewart’s game - an aggressive, athletic approach to the post, with the muscular body (listed 6-8, 240) and wingspan (measured at 7-foot-5) to match, and a motor that rarely stops.
“It’s my passion for basketball,” said Stewart, a class of 2019 prospect from Rochester (N.Y.) McQuaid Jesuit. “I love the game so much. Every play I’m going to run hard, play my heart out, get a rebound, get a bucket.”
That approach makes up for his preliminary label from scouts as an undersized center and produced 11.8 points, 9.5 rebounds for The City Rocks team after the past two weekends of EYBL action.
And he’s doing all this despite being two years younger than the age group on which he’s playing.
“The only thing you need to know is he’s 15,” City Rocks coach and president Jim Hart told Peegs.com. “When you see a sophomore in EYBL, they’re usually 17, maybe 18. When you see a junior, they’re at least 18. This kid is 15 years old, and he’s a man child. He’s 6-foot-8, 240 pounds and all muscle. Some of these guys look like Tarzan and play like Jane. He looks like Tarzan and plays like Godzilla when he wants to.
“He can move anybody in the post. He plays hard. He’s a great teammate. He passes out of the post if he’s doubled. He has a good IQ. He’s developing post skills. He’s got a good jump hook. He has a jumper out to about maybe 18 feet. He’s coachable. He’s hard working. He’s humble. He goes to a good high school. He’s doing it the right way.”
Stewart has begun to earn national recognition, earning an invite to the 2016 USA Men's Junior National Team mini-camp and a return invite for the 2017 USA Basketball Men's U16 National Team training camp. He entered the spring ranked No. 56 in the 2019 class by Scout.com.
Stewart suffered a broken tailbone during the USA Mini-Camp last fall. As someone who feeds off his passion for the game, being sidelined was especially difficult.
He missed the first 14 games of the season, returning in February for the final three weeks of McQuaid Jesuit’s 2016-17 season. He cites a surprising and memorable phone call from an ACC player and former star of the EYBL circuit that helped him get through the three-month recovering process.
“The injury process was lonely, but I had Harry Giles reaching out to me – hearing from him made me more determined to get back and attack rehab like my life depended on it,” Stewart said.
On the recruiting front, Stewart’s latest offers are Georgia Tech, Georgetown, and Indiana.
“I want everybody to know that I’m wide open,” he stressed.
Former UNC assistant coach C.B. McGrath reached out to Stewart’s coach during his sophomore season. The Tar Heel staff, including head coach Roy Williams, watched Stewart play on the EYBL’s opening weekend. That prompted another phone call.
“[My assistant coach], he told me after the first session that Duke, Kansas and UNC had called him,” Stewart said. “It felt great because those three schools are pretty big schools that get big-time recruits. And they're some very great programs.”
When asked what schools he wanted to hear from more, UNC was the first school he mentioned on a long list.
"I'm hoping to hear a little bit more from UNC,” he said. "During my high school season they keep in contact with my coach. I was supposed to stop in for an unofficial while I was down in Myrtle Beach while I was injured but we never got it done. I'm definitely looking forward to hopefully visiting that school soon."
Scott Phillips contributed to this report.